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The NPD Group: More People are Gaming in the US, and They’re Doing So Across More Platforms

22 Jul 2020

There is a general trend towards more significant gaming engagement overall in the midst of COVID-19

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., July 20, 2020 –  Three out of every four, or 244 million, people in the U.S. play video games, an increase of 32 million people since 2018; and multi-device usage has increased, with 65% of gamers using more than one device vs. 59% in 2018, according to 2020 Gamer Segmentation Report, the most recent study from The NPD Group.

According to the report, gamers average 14 hours per week playing video games, up from the 12 hours per week in 2018, when NPD issued its last gamer segmentation report. Thirty-nine percent of U.S. gamers are Light Players who play less than five hours per week, a decline of 8% from 2018. Moderate Players, gamers who play between five and 15 hours per week, make up 32% of the gaming community in the U.S., a 2% increase over 2018. Heavy Players play more than 15 hours per week and make up 20% of U.S. gamers, a 6% increase over 2018.


Gaming During COVID-19

As of May 2020, the majority of U.S. consumers play games on at least one platform. This reflects a total market growth of 7% relative to 2018, and net increases across all the platforms examined. Usage is notably up for multi-purpose devices such as smartphone, tablets, and PCs, as these are likely to be the most readily accessible with many households already having the devices for other purposes.

This increased engagement is a combination of natural market growth, as well as more concentrated engagement resulting from the COVID-19 quarantines. Six percent of active gamers report that they specifically started using a new device to play games in response to COVID-19, and it was most likely to be a multi-purpose device they already owned such as a smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Time spent gaming is up during the pandemic, with 35% of gamers reporting that their current play time during COVID-19 is higher than their play time from earlier in the year. In terms of platform preferences, 94% reported an increase in engagement on platforms they were already using to play games prior to COVID-19, while 6% indicated that they specifically began to use a new device around that timeframe.

“Video games are one of the primary ways friends and family are staying connected through a difficult time,” said Mat Piscatella, U.S. video games industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The growth in both the number of players across all gaming segments, as well as time spent gaming or watching gaming-related content, reflects the variety and depth of gaming experiences available regardless of device preferences, gaming interests or budget.”


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The analysis in this report is based on an online survey of 5,000 active U.S. gamers (ages 2+) conducted in May 2020. Participants in this survey were recruited from two representative pools: adults (respondents age 18+) were recruited for participation directly and completed the survey based on their own habits; children / teens (age 2 – 17) were recruited via parent surrogates. Children over age 10 were instructed to complete the survey themselves, with parental help, if needed, and parents of younger children were asked to complete the survey on the child’s behalf, with the child’s help.


Respondents qualified as active gamers for the purpose of the study if they own or have access to at least one qualifying device and personally used at least one qualifying device to play a video game within the month of the survey.


About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. We have offices in 27 cities worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, video games, and watches. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup @npdgames.

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